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Alberta Court Overturns Conviction of Revisionist Teacher Jim Keegstra

June 8, 1988
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

A three-judge panel of the Alberta Court of Appeals struck down Sunday the 1985 conviction of Jim Keegstra, who was fined $5,000 for violating Canada’s anti-hate legislation.

Keegstra, who had been a high school teacher in the Alberta village of Eckville, taught his pupils that Jews were conspiring to seize the world and that the Holocaust never occurred.

The judges determined that the criminal code section under which Keegstra was convicted was a breach of freedom-of-speech guarantees provided by the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, in force since 1982.

The court ruled that the criminal code section fails to protect the constitutional right of Canadians to be convicted only where a crime is established beyond reasonable doubt.

Justice R.P. Kerans, speaking for the panel, said for those reasons, the section “has no force and effect.” He said there was no need to examine other facets of the case, because preaching hatred is not cause for reasonable limit of free speech, as defined by the charter.

The Alberta attorney general is studying the judgment to determine whether to appeal it to the Canadian Supreme Court.

Jewish leaders challenged the court’s decision. Joe Wilder of Winnipeg, Manitoba, national community relations chairman of the Canadian Jewish Congress, said the justices erred in their interpretation of the charter’s definition of reasonable limits to freedom of speech.

Sheldon Maerov, president of the Jewish Federation of Edmonton, told a news conference he was “nauseated” by the reversal of Keegstra’s conviction.

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